The real story of today's release is not the Apple iPhone 6 as a device but the very thing that makes it what it is - the apps that drive our use. The reality is the phone is just another smart phone device and while there will always be differences in the look and feel of a device from Samsung to Apple and Nokia to HTC the fact is, it is the Apps that support the way we now live, work and play.
We wanted to look back on what entrepreneurs and start-ups need to know about the App market and so we are republishing the peice we uploaded a few months ago - because it is as relevant today as it was then in talking about the real opportunity - entrepreneurship, Apps and you! Take a look:
There are more than 800,000 Apps across each of the Apple and Android platforms yet more often than not many fail to get picked up thereby blowing the dreams and aspirations of the developers who are, invariably, start-up entrepreneurs chasing the elusive dream! So, we went out and spoke to a couple of organisations in Europe, Asia and North America in the lead up to our series this week on App’s and the Cloud and these are the top five things those who develop Apps need to get right in order to increase the chances of success – take a look:
1: Develop something not just for yourself but for others – market research:
Like any start-up business many Apps fail for one very fundamental reason – there just was not a market available to buy the idea that would enable the business to succeed. More often than not Apps fail because developers have not gone out to research what the market may already be offering and if there is demand for what they have. In some cases there may not be a competitor out there at the moment but it may just be the case there is no demand for the App – which means that market research enables you to not only understand who else is already providing a same or similar App but if there is market demand. Of course, research also allows you to look at possible competitor revenue models and unpack what they are doing that may better inform your own business plan.
Dan Cheung recently told the Wall Street Journal that the mobile App that they had developed to rate specific dishes at restaurants had failed because they were “beaten to the punch” by a rival called Foodspotting. “By the time we got to market the oxygen was sucked out of the room.”
2: Know how the App will make you money before you invest the time and cash in its development:
It is nonsense to think that somehow you are building something purely on love alone – at the end of the day you will be expending real costs such as labour which is why you need to know how your App will make money. Will it be based on advertising revenue? Will it be like Candy Crush whereby you can upgrade to special features that enable you to move up levels faster if you pay a price for a package? Or the many dating App’s that allow you to see more of the person you want to meet up with you other than just a single photo? In any event there are always ways of monetising your App and you need to be clear on what that will be from the get go. In doing so, you need to know what the sweet spot is, or magic number, of how many downloads will set you onto the path success – the truth is you often need more than 100,000 downloads before you break even. In the case Dan’s business they achieved 100,000 downloads but they just couldn’t find a way of making money to cover cost – a year after launch it was all over. So, answer the money question up front – not towards the end when it might be too late
3: Have an audience ready to go before you launch:
Ok, some important advice – it is easier to sell your App if you already have a pre-built audience. If you invest a lot of time into the development of the App up-front but spend little time in getting your social media or marketing strategy activated then you have already lost. Development and marketing need to go hand in hand. For example, get your initial website up and running even though it may be brief – make it clear in simple short messages what is coming.
Build a Facebook Group (if you don’t already have one) as well as a Twitter feed (of course select the social media platforms that would be most applicable to you) and begin building your audience or crowd well ahead of the launch date – in other words, the more people that are in your crowd ahead of the launch of the actual App the greater success you will experience and the timeline to meet your download objectives will be met or shortened. If you do the opposite and put all of your effort into development then on launch you will have an audience of zero and it will take time to build to scale (and no friends and family don’t count!). What you are looking for is contagion – and that comes in at number four:
4: Know your download timelines and know about contagion:
The best thing you can do is organise a 12 month period (after launch) whereby you are meeting download numbers on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Your first objective should always be to try and achieve 1,000 downloads within the first month and then every week thereafter add a minimum of 150. By the end of the first quarter you want to be sitting on a minimum of 10,000 downloads because it is that point that contagion begins to take over. The thing about contagion is that at a point the people who download your App will become your sales force and it is the magic number of 10,000 that word of mouth begins to spread - contagion will provide you with additional speed of growth – but you still need to have your key performance indicators in place and be hitting them - marketing and social media strategies are fundamental to success. (of course, the numbers may change depending on the app, type of market and your own cost base).
5: Always keep the App relevant
Ok, here’s a secret – if you are a developer working to a release cycle over the life of the App in a traditional software development sense – kill your thinking! The key thing is to always keep your App relevant and the only way you can really do that is by keeping up with trends and responding to the trend. Many developers can be really pig headed and build something that they think the market needs – instead they miss the point that instead of being developers they really need to be the trend setter. You can read future market trends by looking at how we live work and play – the really successful entrepreneurs are able to convert those future trends into the present which is where we get trend setters. To do that, engage with your crowd and audience not through the beta test of an App upgrade – but around ideas on potential functionality. Run consumer forms alongside developer forums.
Think like a business and remember – release the App when you know your chances of success are aligned with a strategy. Don’t rely on dumb luck or the fact that because you built it they will come – that just won’t happen. You need to work your marketing side just as you need to work your developer skill set. If you don’t have the marketing side then work with someone who does. As we point out constantly the most successful entrepreneurs are those who know their weaknesses and identify people who can fill the gaps.
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